Measuring The Impact of Accessibility Spend for Tourism - AITCAP Webinar
Richard Taylor: Hello, everyone. I'm Richard Taylor. This is a GetAboutAble webinar and welcome to you. We've got people from all over the world today, but we will start with our with our panelists that I've got for you today. So let's say a quick hello to Carolyn Childs. Hi, Carolyn, Matt Wong. You are allowed to say hello. Awesome. Matt Wong: [Everyone says hello] Richard Taylor: And Garry Ellem, good afternoon.
Garry Ellem: Hi. Richard Taylor: Hi. And I just wanted to mention that we've got people here, I think I've closed it down. But there's, we've got people registered from Malaysia, Canada, the UK, all sorts of places. East Timor as well, I think was
the one that caught my eye was interesting. So wherever you are, and whatever time you're watching this, because I know that many of you will watch the recording. Welcome to you. We're here today with these guys to discuss measuring or the title, of course, is about measuring the impact of spend on accessibility and inclusivity. And I think what we've got for you is
quite an interesting chat lined up. Let's just position this before we start: getaboutable.com is our website, you can go and look there if you're not familiar with us, but hopefully you are. And what we're trying to do is we're leading up to a conference next year called AITCAP that it's Accessible & Inclusive Tourism Conference in the Asia Pacific. We ran that last year and that
went very well. But we thought this year, we would do a series of webinars on the lead up to that, too, to get people to carry on talking about it, so it's not just a once a year event, but also just to flesh out some of the things that are on people's mind. So that when we do do the real conference, it's well organized and we're on point with what's current. So this is the first one, and we're going to find out more about these guys, first of all, so, Carolyn, I'll just start with you. So let's assume that no one's ever heard of
you: who are you? And what do you do? Carolyn Childs: Well, I'm Carolyn Childs, I'm the CEO of MyTravelResearch.com and I'm also a futurist and a strategist. My journey into accessibility, actually, like most people's began with a personal journey, which is my father had an acquired disability. And I observed how tough that was for him doing something that he loved, which was travel, and I dreamed of him coming to visit me in Sydney, but looked at the part of Sydney I lived in and thought it would be agony for him, literally agony. Not just that, but things like I live between two railway stations, one has 14 steps down, the other has 30 steps up, which on a hot day even I struggle with. And then we started to look at this in the context of the research that I do, and started to unlock some interesting insights. And then I was very lucky to be appointed in 2017, to conduct research for Tourism Research Australia, the governments of Victoria and Queensland so States here in Australia, which really got under the skin of that. And I had the immense privilege of talking to people with a
disability about what would make travel for them, the joy it is for the rest of us and how we could move the barriers that the rest of us sometimes put in the way of them having those great experiences. Richard Taylor: Terrific, and we don't need any other guests. [Laughs] I would know that was wonderful. Thank you for outlining that to us. That's interesting. Now I want to start really the discussion with Matt and Garry. So Matt, I'll start with you. If you could just introduce yourself to everyone. And then I'm going to ask you about your journey through the last year or two.
But first of all, nice to have you. Thanks for coming. Matt Wong: Yeah, thanks for inviting me. I assume no one knows me because I'm the only Kiwi on this call, I suspect. But my journey I guess... Richard Taylor: Sorry to hear that it's okay. We accept, we say we're inclusive. We accept everyone.
Unknown: Except Kiwis. [Laughs] So I started IFly three years ago for an American company called SkyVenture and there's 87 odd tunnels around the world now but but IFly essentially is simulates skydiving freefall in a vertical wind tunnel. If anyone knows Queenstown - you probably haven't visited for the last two years - but we're just down from the gondola and the CBD. I guess one of our taglines is "We're for all ages and for all
abilities". I've been in tourism in Queenstown for 20 odd years working with agencies, activities, even wildlife parks... and this was the first one we had in the tagline "we're for all abilities". And so that's where my
journey started three years ago. It was just talking about: "if we're going to say it, we need to believe it, we need to actually put this into actions". And it's still in its infancy. And I think personally, I'm still on on this journey of inclusive, accessible tourism. But it's really taken off for us in the last
couple of years. And we can talk about this a little bit further on in the conversation, but it's been pretty exciting, even through COVID and it's created quite a few opportunities for us. We will talk more I'm sure. Richard Taylor: Terrific, Garry, lucky last, no one's heard of you - we're pretending even if they do know you - could you just outline who you are and what you're up to? Garry Ellem: Yeah, thanks very much. It's fantastic to be here. I'm actually probably usually keeping a fairly low profile so I don't think anyone would have heard of me, to be honest. 20 years running caravan parks, that's my
background. I'm a bean counter by trade. So I'm an accountant, I apologize first off for that, don't hold that against me. Richard Taylor: I said we're inclusive! [Laughs] Garry Ellem: And my journey really started with... it's been nibbling at
inclusiveness and accessible travel, accessible tourism for years and years, just minor improvements. And I actually had my 80th birthday party a couple of years ago. And you're either thinking I look really good for 80, or I look really bad for 80, I'm not sure. So it was actually my wife's and my 40th
birthday, basically a couple of months. So we split the time and had a joint birthday party in between. And so I've put my grandparents to stay at one of the cabins of a caravan park that I stated that I look after. And watching my actual 80 year old grandmother, try and climb the stairs and just going: "Wow, I haven't done enough. This is obviously not enough." It's not good enough what we have done for delivering accessible facilities for all access needs. And that was really the start of it: well, we've taken nibbles, we need
to take a big bite, and we really need to push forward. So that's really what, for me and for like my holiday parks, that's what really got us going. Richard Taylor: That's sort of leads me nicely into the first part of what we were talking about. Let me go back to you, Garry on this. So what happened? Garry Ellem: It was a journey. And I think that you've hit the nail on the
head. It's a continuing journey. I don't think we're ever gonna get to an endpoint where we go "We're done". It's a long process. So with the parks, that I look after, it was around: what are we doing right? What are we doing wrong? Is there an off the shelf product? You know, why reinvent the wheel and 20 years industry experience, I know a lot of what's out there. And I had a look at what new products are out there. And it missed the mark on what we were trying to achieve. You can grab an off the shelf, but it didn't really deliver that
inclusive tourism for not just a wheelchair but for somebody who's got arthritis, for an athlete who's got a broken leg, for families with prams... it's a big spectrum. To get that across the board and get people on board with it, we did a couple of different things. So we actually put all the park managers in a wheelchair and gave them a bit of a tour around the caravan park. I tell you what, that's a challenging experience. But it is well well worth it. That was an absolute eye opener. So park managers who beforehand thought "We're doing the
right thing", just spend 20 minutes in a wheelchair and come back knackered, absolutely stuffed: it is so difficult! And just go "Oh my God, we've been missing it for years. We're nowhere near it!" And it gave them a real appreciation. So that was an easy sell from then on. If I spoke to my parks that "this is what we're going to do, or we're going to be doing more or we need to really get down this track" they are 100% on board because they had a real life appreciation for the difficulty. In terms of in Council and getting it through the powers that be in council, that's a bit of a journey as well. That was around telling them: "Look. Here's the moral reasons why we need to do it.
Here's the business case, we need to do it as well." That was a bit of a sales pitch. And as Carolyn mentioned beforehand, there's some handy research around from 2017-2018. There's not a lot before that and in terms of New South Wales, there's that much, it's basically non existent. It's really difficult to find some business cases that you can hang your hat on and go "Look it will work. I know it will work. It's not just me saying it. There's others who can
verify that." And that was... like I say that was a journey and we got them through that, we got the accessibility inclusion panel on board, we got the counselors on board and Madam Mayor and things like that. So they all got across the line. But it was really about having that sales pitch of "there's a problem.
It's not an off the shelf product that's going to solve that for us, we need to really push ahead." Part of that was delving really deeply into it. Not just, it's gonna cost more money, but there's a whole of life cost for it as well. And the cabins we installed across their whole life actually end up being $120,000 cheaper than a standard off the shelf cabin. So they cost us more upfront. But by putting in stone benchtops, recycled plastic decking, being intelligent with our design and setbacks for Western facing, there's a whole host of things... your whole life cost of the product actually, is a lot
less. So you could demonstrate it costs us more upfront, we're gonna make money out of them, it's the right thing to do and it's gonna cost us less over the life of the cabin. It just ticked all those boxes. Richard Taylor: That's one of the themes of today. We've got Carolyn, the academic who's done a lot of that research, is it right to call you an academic Carolyn? Carolyn Childs: I think any academic is probably having doubts at the moment. Richard Taylor: All right, researcher then. But okay, let's be honest, you have an academic mind, at least.
Carolyn Childs: I have a mind that picks apart the theory of it. Yes. Richard Taylor: But weighing that up again with the research, but down to the real life, actual challenges that someone would have, like yourself, Garry, with that. We envisage, of course that people will come along and think well, where do I start? You became very passionate about this, were you rejected internally before...? Did you have to go through a lot of that to get to where
you wanted to go Garry? Garry Ellem: Oh sorry. I thought you were still talking to Carolyn? Richard Taylor: No, no, no, I'm sorry. Did you have a lot of walls that you had to push down to to get these things done? Garry Ellem: Yes, there are. Yeah. And it's because it's challenging the status quo and it's trying to get people to think outside a smaller focus and try and think a bit broader across. We're not going to do the stock standard, we're not going to do what everyone else does. And there's a broader need for this, we need to take people's consideration and we really need to push it. So we started looking at every element, so not just "we can put a cabin
there" but: how do we get it so it's easier for someone to come into the caravan park? How do we improve the booking process? How do we get our staff more aware of inclusion - so they've all gone through inclusive training? As they arrive at the cabin, it's not just a car park, it's got to be large enough. We've got covered ramps that get to the front door.So if you've got... prime example, elderly person who has arthritis, difficulty using a key, we've done away with that, it's about how do we change that? that's an obstacle, how do we fix it? So you know, remote control, glass sliding doors, or push button sensors. I don't know how much detail Richard's gonna let me go into [laughs]! Richard Taylor: You know, what I'm doing, I'm just texting my wife "tell my children to be quiet." Garry Ellem: The more elements that we went through.... And I mentioned this to Richard beforehand, we actually did this project, and we're like "what's all the things and the things that we want to challenge". And basically, I prepared
this massive list and gave it to the architect - who was really good, he was on board, understood what I was trying to achieve - : "Here's this massive list, good luck to fit that in a cabinet that's gonna fit in the square meters". And they were really good, they took on 100% this is what I'm trying to achieve and what we're going with. So we've got some really nifty features in there, you need open space. But what I'm probably proudest about is our kitchens. So our kitchens which sounds really boring, but it's an adjustable kitchen by remote control. So press a button, kitchen benches come up and down, the kitchen
cupboards come down and out so people can reach them. If you're in a wheelchair, if you're a little bit shorter... It just makes it easier. So it's all these nifty little features that make our kitchens like... They're very boxy kitchens, we were the first people to use them in a commercial environment. They've never been used in a commercial environment beforehand and no one's gone down that track before. But we saw it as an opportunity. And I
know that there's now other Caravan parks going: "You know what, that's not a bad idea! You know not just for accessible tourism or accessible travel, not just for somebody in a wheelchair or somebody in a walker, but for everyone it can make that easier." If you've got little kids, you can get the little kids cooking with you. That's a great family bonding experience. So if you can do simple things like that, it's about that universal design and it benefits everyone. That's really what we were trying to focus on. And you take a lot of self review at the same time while you're going through all this. I don't have lived experiences of disability but I have a little bit of empathy and I can understand that we haven't done enough, we need to do more. So every time you turned around, it was about, well, what else can we do? What else can we do? Simple things like, why make somebody who is in a wheelchair, go to the laundry block to do their washing and drying, like, that's just silly. Just
stick a machine in here, just stick out washer dryer combo... all these little simple things that were an obstacle, but we went in with the mindset of a growth mindset. We're not there yet, we can do more and we can look more and we can challenge more. We can keep taking these steps, little individual steps but the
result is a big step for us. Richard Taylor: Tell me just briefly before we move on what happened in regards to once you open the bookings that came through? Garry Ellem: It's been great! It's been great for business, not gonna deny it, but it's even... I'll stick with the business and I'll touch on some of the other positives that really come with it as well, it's probably worth more. But in terms of financial benefit for us: we've actually got four cabins and one of them is a duplex that can be rented out as 2 one-bedroom cabins or as a combo for somebody is traveling with a support person, makes it easy to use. So those five cabins, we got open in September, and then we got shut down again at the end of June for COVID, as everyone knows, so it's been a bumpy ride. Now what we found is bookings have been fantastic for them. We've found
that people booked in longer in advance for the facility, they stay longer. And we actually artificially lower the price, we actually keep the price low because even though we could charge more for the quality of the cabin, that's not the sole purpose of it to make money, the sole purpose is to provide accommodation for somebody who may not have had that opportunity beforehand. But from those cabins we've made over that nine month period $215,000 bucks (AUD), I'm not gonna lie, they cost us a fair chunk of change, it cost us about $1.4 mil (AUD) to throw them in and to get a lot of accessible improvements done in the parks at the same time. So we've made 215 grand back, so an average
yield of $53,000 (AUD) each of those cabins in nine months. By comparison, the rest of my cabin stock in a full 12 month period $42,000 (AUD) yield. It speaks for itself. We're making extra money in less time. And we're doing the
right thing. Richard Taylor: If we've still got anyone left on the call who isn't rushing off to build some cabins, we'll move on. But thank you, I wanted to take the time with that because it was just so interesting when I spoke to you about it. And I think that journey brings us full circle, doesn't it? But you do lose five points of mentioning COVID. Just so you know [laughs]. Garry Ellem: I'll catch up! Richard Taylor: Matt, you're slightly different aren't you? You didn't have that big outlay you told me. Can you explain from a commercial perspective as
well, what was your journey? Matt Wong: Yeah, we were already set up, I guess. And I guess what happened with us is the C word happened and at that time, we were looking for opportunities. We're a small little business tourism business in Queenstown and just to get a picture about what it's been like here in New Zealand 80% of our business was international travelers prior to to the C word... Richard Taylor: COVID instead of the C word, just say. Matt Wong: I just don't want to lose any points. I'm just very conscious of that.
[Everyone laugh]. So we're left with 20% of our market. So we had to really think hard in strategic about what we were going to do and what happened is we had to throw the rollback out. That was the first challenge actually: ignore everything you've learned over the last 20 years, throw it out the window and start again and think like an entrepreneur. What I did, because we were a small to medium business, was look at all the big players in tourism and go "we're just going to do everything opposite to you". We're going to retain our staff, we're going to look after people, we're gonna put people first before money, and we're going to look for opportunities. And one of those
opportunities was Jezza Williams from Making Trax here in New Zealand. He's on a mission to have the inclusive movement happen here and he wanted to start in Queenstown. We were members for a year and I guess anyone in business, you want to know that your money is going somewhere, ao if I was going to pay subscriptions to Making Trax, I wanted to know where that money was going. It wasn't because I was thinking about canceling it, I just genuinely wanted to know where it was going and what it meant. So I invited Jezza along for a meeting, that meeting lasted a whole day, it was quite a passionate chat. We talk a lot, as you will learn! And in that moment, I understood that there was an opportunity, a commercial opportunity. Now, it's been highlighted
since COVID that tourism businesses need to have a social licence in good conscience. But why can't you have it as well as a commercial focus and a commercial edge? So that's sort of where the story began for us. Jezza said: "Hey, look, the Making Trax movement is very much in its infancy here, I'm doing it on my own, I need some help" and we discussed all of the challenges he was having to get it started. And the RTOs weren't really talking - that's the Regional Tourism Organisation's here - and I said, "Right, I'm on a mission to help you". And so we did. And we got our staff involved. It wasn't necessarily infrastructure, we were accessible, our business is accessible but what he led me to believe was, you can be accessible, but it's different to being inclusive, and inclusive was more about educating people. I come from a background of I have no lived
experience, right, whether that's a challenge or not, I'm not sure but that's the position I came from. So I really needed to educate myself before I could actually educate my staff. Then it was about the collaboration. We talk to people that come in with a physical disability and we try and understand what they need and they will tell us: they know their bodies better than we do! But it was just breaking that ice of actually just saying, "How can we help? What do you need?" And a lot of my staff, I talked to them today about it, now they are more than comfortable with anyone that comes in with any sort of form of disability whatsoever. That's really the biggest hurdle we had face was the people aspect, not the facilities, it was the people and connecting those relationships and understanding how we had to be as an operation. This is fundamentally where we're challenged right now, as an industry, is owner /operators like myself, we don't have lived experiences, and it's not on our radar. But then again, the commercial aspect kicks in
again, and you start doing the numbers. Jezza told me, 1 in 4 Kiwis suffers from some sort of mental or physical disability. And I do the numbers on that, as a sales marketing person I go "Hang on is this 25% of my market I'm not looking to". There's a huge opportunity here! And so if no one else is doing it, that's what we do. We jumped into the market, and we played
where no one else was. And it's been absolutely phenomenal. I don't have cash measurements and results the way Garry does, we're only two years into our journey of this. But what I do have is I have some amazing opportunities to do fantastic PR, and exposure for a brand that's only three years old in this country. I'll just give you one example. We have a champion Jack and he's now our ambassador, he's in a wheelchair broke his back on the ski field snowboarding and he is an adrenaline junkie. He saw iFly, he got unfortunately turned away from a skydiving operation, and he found iFly, he came into us and we welcomed him with open arms. And he's now here every second day flying with us so much
so that he's now our ambassador. And he was brave enough for a 20 something year old chap to tell his story in front of a TV camera. That TV camera ended up putting a great story on Seven Sharp - which is a current affairs program here in New Zealand - and the producer told me that marketing on its own, three minutes at Prime Time, was worth 35k. So I already know that I've got 35k worth of marketing, but I know there's well more than that. We're probably talking double from the exposure in.... you know, you've got me standing here
talking to you right now, this is just another prime example of when you do something positive, you do something that's right, you put people first I guess, it does have a commercial flow-on effect. Also people want to work with you. So I guess that's the message: if you do the same as everyone else, you don't get hurt, you don't get to front these sorts of conversations, but these conversations lead to great connections and great networking opportunities.
Richard Taylor: Terrific, thank you! Over to the "not-academic" Carolyn Childs. Carolyn Childs: I always have fraud syndrome when people say, because I see myself as a researcher who rolls their sleeves up, get their hands dirty with dirt. So go on... Richard Taylor: I'm just making fun of you. I'd like you to come back... - I've got a couple of questions mostly directed at you coming up - but I'd like you to come back on what the guys have just been saying. Because you spoke at AITCAP last year, joined us and spoke about the size of the market and the potential out there based on your own research in 2018, that Garry himself referred to when he was doing his planning. But we are to hear real world
examples. What does that make you think when you hear this? Carolyn Childs: Well, there's probably one lesson to self and I'm just gonna kick that out of the way. Because when we did the project in 2017, obviously, we did primary research, we did qual and quant with people. But actually, we also did a big desk research piece. And based on the bits that the paying clients didn't want to use, I was able to take away anything that was in the public domain and produce another 70 page report from that, aside from the ones that you can get from the Tourism Research Australia website. But what it
says to me is actually if people are looking for data we who are generating that need to help people understand how they can use the data that's out there. So for example, VisitBritain - and I see Chris Veitch on the call listening in - has a regular update of sizing the market in the UK. So they add the question periodically to their visitor survey. But the Open Doors foundation in the US does this survey maximum every couple of years. One of the things I would say to people is: "don't worry if the data is just about you", because one of the things we saw with the research about this topic is there's great global similarities. So what VisitBritain, VisitEngland, Chris Veitch's work in the
UK, is replicated in the US, it's replicated here in Australia... we don't know very much I will be honest about markets like Asia-Pacific... Europe, ENAT has great amounts of information... What we actually have to do is - and this is a note I'm taking away from this is - go and talk to people about where that research is. But listening to what Garry and Matt said to me, one of the things that when we're talking about there not being data, what they've both done, I think the first starting point is that growth mindset, but they've clearly both got that commercial mindset to look at this is they've created their own metrics here. Now, obviously, when you're starting out, that's difficult.
And that's where all that published research can help you. Richard Taylor: That's why we're getting those guys to do it all for us. And we're gonna get it done.
Carolyn Childs: If you look at the first thing Garry did is a benchmark that you can do, which is put your staff into that situation. Now this is what the major car manufacturers do, they have their design engineers wear these heavy suits, to see what it feels like to get into one of their cars, if you're a 70 year old. So get your staff, look at what you've already got and look at it through the eyes of somebody who is facing some of those challenges. So that's your starting point. Now I reckon, Garry, if you put your staff back in those wheelchairs now, you'd be able to have a measurable sense of progress and a measurable sense of progress that you can talk about. That's
kind of that first kind of measure of that. And then Garry also talked about that if we spent this much money, but that comparison between the standard cabins and these inclusive cabins, I think that's the message that's going to connect a lot of people to why the heck I should get into this market. You know, I've spent four years going: "Oh my god, this is probably the biggest opportunity that anyone's gonna get! Forget China! Forget all these inbound markets! Here's a market that's on your doorstep." But Garry's lived experience demonstrates
that with the data that he has. So you can look at your own reservations, data, your own data. And the other one that Matt's got in there, where he talks about that PR value of being able to talk about it. Remind me Matt, on your website, you've got something that links to accessibility, and you can probably start to look at your website metrics to do that. So even if there isn't data,
once you start on your journey, one of the things I'd encourage people to think is you actually are sat on a mine of insights that you're already watching! The other thing I'd like to pick out is the thing that Matt said about just bloody ask people you know! People with a disability are used to being invisible. Incidentally, so are women over 50, I'm just going to put that out. But you know, often - not everyone, I'm going to be honest, there are people who are different about this - but often they're delighted to be asked. Because as much as they know their disability or the barriers that face them better than anyone else, they're going to be there. So asking your customers, reporting
updates to your customers, all of those things are things that you can do practically, to see whether things are making a difference. Richard Taylor: Thank you. Thank you, actually you brought me forward to the question I had for the audience which I'm going to ask now. And if you've got something you'd like to type in to the chat box, you'd be absolutely welcome. I should also mention that if that's difficult for you in any way, our email address is email@example.com, if you'd like to email us, we will
definitely respond to that. We'll ask the guys to respond by email as well. That's fine. Matt, and Gary, have you any response to that? I'll start with you, Matt. That's all right. Matt Wong: Yeah, I'm gonna touch in on the last point of Carolyn: you do just have to start somewhere. And for me being private, it's having that hook of a commercial edge is where the starting point is. Because there's so many
operators that just think about the dollar signs, or how much they're spinning and how much they're going to make. If you start that way, it's always a challenge, because you can always find some excuse why you're not going to be in the money. But in this environment, you've just got to start. I think that's extremely important and great to pick up on how you collect the data. It's always a challenge for me, as an SME business, you run around and you're doing 100 things a day, and you forget to collect the data. And then once you've collected the data, you question: is it the right data and are you actually reading it properly? But there's little metrics... Like Destination Queenstown here has just started on their inclusive tourism movement. They've now got a dedicated
site or part of their website now that's inclusive. And of course, we're showcased at the top of their website, because we are the most inclusive operator in this town. And we've got great high definition content to go with it. So already, we've got an edge, and we can measure the traffic through from our Regional Tourism Organisation straight through to our business. So you know, it is this scenario of building the car as you drive it but that's okay.
We're in this this mindset of startup in testing and validating, and failing is fine. Absolutely nothing wrong with failing. This is the essence of what we need to be doing, I guess, in the COVID environment right now. But because of that, you're getting some fantastic growth opportunities that we didn't realize existed. I'll pass it on to Garry. Richard Taylor: Oh, well, if I can just ask you, though, a question I wasn't planning on asking. But my experience in tourism, if someone is going to...
someone who could benefit from accessible and inclusive features, comes to Queenstown and visits you, with other markets, you will... if you've got, for example, a kayaking center in the middle of nowhere, it is great for those places to have other places where people can go! So I'm not making much sense here. I know what I mean, there's no Matt Wong: collaboration, I guess. Richard Taylor: Exactly. Yes. So are there... So are there other destinations that you're working with, and maybe encouraging to get involved in this sort of thing? Matt Wong: Oh, from what I can tell, there is, but we're all... New Zealand
is again, quite in its infancy as far as I can tell. It is the exciting part, I love doing new stuff. But if Queenstown could lead the way in, others will adopt it. That's the key to it. I think there is accessible and inclusive work being done, but just not focused on the tourism market or the tourism industry.
So we do hear about it, but it's not purely focused on the activity market. So what we're trying to achieve here is working with like minded activity operators. And I think that is the key to it. I think every activity operator has the ability to be fantastic at inclusive tourism. But I don't know if they all have the mindset or the growth mindset to do it. And especially in this
environement and let's be honest, it's been bloody tough, and it still is and it's going to get tougher, potentially. So talking to them about growing into an area that they weren't even thinking about, wasn't even on the radar, when they're trying to pay the rent, it can be challenging. So there are going to be some leaders that need to step up. But they are the ones that are the entrepreneurial type, who are looking for those opportunities there when the market does come back and those planes coming back to New Zealand, they are already ahead of the game. That's the exciting part, I guess for us is, it is a competition still, we are still competing, we're in it to make money, let's be honest, but we can have a social license at the same time. And I'm
happy to share that knowledge. I think I jokingly said, you know, coming on here, I'm thinking about do I want to share some of these hidden gems? But then my social license kicks in and goes "Yes, I do. It's for the greater good." So you know that's quite important.
Richard Taylor: Garry, any comeback to some of the points that Carolyn made? Don't have to! Garry Ellem: No, I'm trying to remember as much of this myself as I can. [Laughs] I think probably one of the elements there that was just briefly touched on was the ancillary markets that you don't know that you're going to tap into. And I think there's other businesses who will start to recognize that as well. For us with caravan parks, respite organizations was one I hadn't even factored into my numbers. So I thought: "We're going to attract, families and people who need it" and we got basically the door beaten down by local respite organizations who would book my cabins out every day, my cabins out every day of the week, if we would let them. Now we've deliberately said, and it's a business decision to say, we'd love that, that's a lot of money, that would be fantastic but no, our cabins right now are for as many people as we can get them out to, so many people can use it. That can help those
other local tourism facilities that are also starting to say, Well, how do we get in on that accessible market as well, and trying to find those elements. So if I had the cash, I'd put in another dozen cabins, and I'd be speaking to the respite care organizations. That was an untapped market that we hadn't even considered that came banging on the door saying, "Let us in, let us stay! Hey, when can we book? when can we come? Can we be there tomorrow?" Yeah, it's this massive market that you just don't see until you go and take that leap of faith and start working down, going down that journey and then it comes out of the woodwork. The other thing I'd say is, the accountant in me, I mean, it's all numbers and it's all measuring, sorry, but the flip side of the coin is the good news stories you pick up of people traveling and staying in the parks. That brings a tear to your eye, people who say, "I've not been able to go for a holiday, in 20 years, in 30 years", we've got grandparents bringing their grandkids, saying, "We've never been able to take them away and let their parents have a holiday. And we can take them here". It's those things that you
just go: That's why we do it. The money is good, it's good from a business point of view. But that's the real essence of why we're doing it. Richard Taylor: Okay, just a brief interlude, I want to give a shout out to our team, Adrienne, Julia, Manon, Yasmine, our founder who's on the call listening as well. And Debbie is here I think as well. A lot of work they do is fantastic. So I just want to just briefly mention them. I just like to read out some some points from some of the people on the call. Chris Veitch says "Some great points being made here. This is rooted in the name of delivering
amazing experiences through great customer service, the essential focus for any business needing to understand the wider customer base out there". He also says "This has great case study potential." Actually, they're all from Chris! Oh, yeah, well [Laughs], I can pr mote him to be a panelist. Maybe. But
e's been making great comments on this But it's key to not only think abou the capital, cost, investment and ROI but also the soft, intangible eleme ts of service training staff, empowering staff to make service adjustments, a l part of the welcome. The other ke elements are information and market ng to reach a wider audience. Many may ake changes, but forget about the ast element. And another guy called Ch is, who may or may not be... I'm joking says "The service element is a k y starting point for many SMEs. The e won't be much cash around but the co t to make service changes will be ve y small and can make a huge difference". Chris, you are welcome to make mor e comments but so is everyone else I should say it's not just a Chris how. Adrian asks, "Garry is Lake Mac onsidering using the cabin design as a
rototype that can be used more widel ? Garry Ellem: If you want a copy of my plans, I'm happy to give them to you! Richard Taylor: There's an offer and I was noting when you were talking just then I think Manon if you're listening we'd like a snippet of that. And we need to reach the whole tourism industry. But some of the things Garry was just saying about the... Yeah, we've got to get this message out there. Anyway, I'm losing track of where I was going. So I wanted to just ask you guys, Matt and Garry, if better, more up to date or better analysis would have been out there for you when you started what you were doing, what sort of thing you think you could benefit from knowing when you started on this? What could you have pulled out for the people that you have to deal with and say this is why? This is what we're talking about today. Garry, sorry. Garry Ellem: Yes, in essence, but I think having that demonstrable, this is what you're going to get out from a business point of view, is worth its weight in gold. Whether that's you going to a board of directors and saying I
want to spend a lot more cash, or whether that's going to the bank and saying I need an overdraft to help me build my business. That's black and white and irrefutable, it makes it easier to make that sales pitch. Beyond that some intangible soft rewards that you get out of it also would help that sales pitch but that's not something you can really measure. That's a really
difficult one. Carolyn, there's a challenge for you! Carolyn Childs: There's actually one particular thing, and Matt touched on this with his staff, which is, now this is not unique to Australia and New Zealand, we in tourism are about to enter a global war for top talent. And I touched on this in my AITCAP session, which is the motivational effects of social licence in recruiting stuff, particularly now. I'm always a bit nervous about using the generational thing because there are lots of things that are just as relevant, whether you're 21, or 101, but we do know that Gen Z coming through millenials, that kind of younger end of the millennial cohort, they are the first generation that is motivated as much or more by purpose as by money. So in a war for talent, and bearing in mind that tourism is not the best payer in the world, we're all aware that if you start factoring in those kinds of costs into your plans, it's definitely something that's there. And I actually feel when you look at great experiences that deliver that intangible benefit, whether they're inclusive experiences or not, I will honestly say emotion is truly the most monetizable asset any tourism business can have because that is the difference between what people will willingly pay more for, that magic moment. So, you know, if you look at the
moment, Garry really talks about that: "you can lower the table so your kids can participate", that's something that people will pay for. There's a study that my old employer Kantar, that's called BrandZ and they talk about the value of a brand, and the attributes of a brand. They've been demonstrating for like 20-30 years, the premium that emotional connection to a business or a brand or a place has. Businesses who have that grow faster or more profitable, have higher customer retention, have higher staff retention.
And that's again, where I think as I said, the lesson for me is to keep putting that message out there about different ways to use data to pull those things together. That's the message that you bring. I guess the other thing I'd probably say is, we, as human beings, we're quite binary. By which I mean, we're either this or that. What both Garry and Matt's businesses clearly demonstrate is why choose? Great businesses do both. That's where I think the opportunity is. You talked about this idea of whether every business is going to be ready for this. I haven't had a tourism business, who sat there
and said, "Oh, we've got enough customers and we're comfortable where the future is going". If you are comfortable where the future is going, you've got to change. That's the problem is we... and I know, all emotional reasons, change is uncomfortable for humans at the best of times, and it's particularly uncomfortable for human beings when they've been to cataclysmic events. Like we hear words like "back to normal". Well, last year, I looked at normal and we did a big review of this: normal actually wasn't so great beforehand. I mean, normally in Queenstown had you trucking workers in from an hour and a half away because they had nowhere to stay, because you had a an accommodation affordability crisis or housing affordability crisis? So there were lots of things about normal that weren't great before and this has created an opportunity for change. Why not go with the change where
these opportunities are? We talked about absence of research about accessible tourism but as Matt said, the numbers that he looked at were just how much of the population falls into this category. It's, well, it's crude, but it's a damn big number. When you start looking at that, in advanced economies with aging populations, 20 to 25% of the population is going to need inclusive experiences.
Garry touched on families, incidence are... my former business partner Bronwyn White at one point, because her second pregnancy was twins had three children under two [Laughs at reaction] I know, everybody's sitting there going like this for her now! Incidence of twins has been going up is I think it's doubled since the 1980s. So if you're in the family market, every single one of the designs that Garry has talked about - I mean, I'm not sure when you can take two year olds in and do a skydiving experience -, every single one of the things that he's talked about is going to increase your attractiveness for that market. That's the power of
inclusiveness is we've got to reframe our thinking, which is that big kind of initial step. But once you step over that, this is where the excitement is, this is where that growth opportunity is. What I would say to people, if they're going: "Oh, it's too difficult", it's like, why is that more difficult than lying, waking at night worrying where the money is going to come from and where the decent staff are going to come from? That's what I feel. I might pull together, I'm thinking I might pull together some of that thought about how emotion can be monetized. But I think you heard it actually from the horse's mouth, from the operators themselves, from Garry and Matt, around how motivating it is for their staff, how profitable it is to be doing that, and how good does it feel to be making four times as much money or five times as much money from an "aha" moment.
Richard Taylor: Can I ask you about the staff experience, Matt? Are they... do they... How do I phrase this? Do they feel better about themselves? about some of their experiences and the things that they're doing now perhaps that they weren't thinking of a year or two ago? Matt Wong: Yeah. So we launched three years ago, the first year was that forming, storming, norming, performing of a startup.
Richard Taylor: I'm sorry, what? Matt Wong: Forming norming performing... sorry Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing of a startup. And when you get into mode, you're just hungry to learn. What it does is it just empowers them. So all of a sudden... there's this analogy where a manager pulls your staff up, but then eventually you want to sit underneath them, and you want to lift them up and support them. And that's
where we're at as a team. And when I can have my most junior instructor say, "Yeah, I'm comfortable taking anyone, of any ability into this tunnel. As long as I've got support from my senior leadership team, I'm good". You know that that is phenomenal. We touched on... Oh there's so many things you
touched on and I was just nodding in agreement now forgotten them all, but... Richard Taylor: Recording for you, don't worry. Matt Wong: Thank you. Thank you. Gen Y and some of the younger generations, the 20 year olds, I've never managed 20 year olds and up until three years ago, and the first year was horrific, by the way. But the second and third year through crisis, they were absolutely amazing, as long as you provided what they needed.
We talked about Maslow's hierarchy of eeds, which is a basic philosophy aro nd what a human needs to grow in be the be good at what they are. It's things ike physiological needs and belongi g, respect, all those stuffs and safet is a big one. You can provide some f the bottom layers of the pyramid of aslow's hierarchy, you've got them in your pocket, they'll do anything for you. I hear all the time when they talk about the experience through C VID and how they were looked after an how they want to give back, they woul n't leave, they love this place and all f the great things that they get to do nd inclusive tourism is just one of the . I just want to touch on clients and know we're focused on people with phy ical disabilities but last week, I th nk it was about invisible disabilit es. I'm not sure someone please corr
ct me if I'm wrong. And what got me rea ly thinking was actually it goes mu h, much wider than the market we are t lking about here. So we're talking a out the family and again, I'm probably reaching to the choir here, but we're ta king about families friends, suppo t people, the network that they're worki g with. Now we're talking about people ith, say an anxiety, or that youn
kids that maybe lack a little bit of onfidence. They don't want to go into a wind tunnel. And we're building confid nce. But they now see someone like Jack who's in a wheelchair, coming to iFly and he's probably one of our be t fliers, regardless of whether he ca use his legs or not, is one of our est fliers, full stop. If they ca see this, that gives the whole ma ket confidence so they can take pa t in these activities and there is bsolutely no excuses. So it ju t spreads across the whole demographi . That's all I'll say. Richard Taylor: That's terrific, thank you! Garry, same question. We're running about eight minutes, so a bit more brief maybe but the staff, has it affected their, how they perform? Garry Ellem: They love it.
Richard Taylor: Yeah, thank you moving on. I'm joking Garry Ellem: Definitely very challenging. And we've got some more little challenges for them in store. Last time, we put them in wheelchairs. The next obstacle is around you might have a visual disability, so you're putting on some special glasses that change how you perceive things to, again, get them to see it from a different point of view. They've gone
through the inclusive training. But there's good news stories and when they see the benefit to the customers that come in and go "Wow, this is awesome!", they're not going to go anywhere. And they will work themselves to the bone, because they love what they're doing. They love that interaction and that positive news story and that we're here for the right cause. And it's worth its weight in gold.
Richard Taylor: Thank you. The preaching to the choir comment you made Matt, that is a big thing of mine. So we have got supporters on this call, you guys, I would include in that, you know, we're running our AITCAP next year, and that's the sole person will come along. But we need to reach the people who are you five years ago, for example, Matt don't we? Matt Wong: Yeah. Richard Taylor: And that's key that discussion about turning into the real world is something I think we can build on. I've got some comments from people. Lalaine says: "Accessibility is for all by all, of all. There is untapped market
in accessible tourism, yet business world is still not aware". And I think Carolyn would agree with that. Manon says, our own Manon says, "I agree 100% with all the positive impact. It's so important to hear. What has been the main risk to take the leap of faith moment for you, Garry and Matt, when we're talking about return on investment?" Brief, really brief answer on that. Can you say anything on that? What has been the main risk to take that leap of faith? Any risks? Matt Wong: I take risks every day, I bought a business in COVID. So I love
risk. I actually really enjoy it. I hate standing still and not moving. So really, the only risk we had was that we might offend someone. That's the biggest risk we had. And hey, if that's the biggest risk, it's not really a risk.
That's a risk we can manage and deal with. Financially, because I look at numbers, I work those numbers really nicely and I go "Oh, hang on a minute, Iif I spent $1,000 here I can make $50,000 there." And Garry's probably in a great boat there as well to say that similar things. So there wasn't any risk. Richard Taylor: Did you ever imagine...Yyou didn't ever imagine that
you'd be talking on a platform such as this one, did you Matt, five years ago? Matt Wong: No, no! And that's the thing again, if you talk the right things, and you start experimenting, you discover stuff, and then you start talking about it on things like LinkedIn, people want to work with you, with your business. They want to work with you, they want to hang out with you, they want to talk about it and learn from you. I all of a sudden become an expert. I am no expert. I steal all my ideas of great people. But that's okay. But you know, what I do
love doing is I love pushing forward. I like breaking molds and throwing away rule books. Richard Taylor: We need to reach those, we need to reach those people as well who are much earlier on in the journey. Matt Wong: And I guess if I can influence, great. Richard Taylor: Adrienne says "I love your attitude, Matt! As the parent of a son with autism, sometimes all he needs is someone who is patient and supportive in order to step out and try something new." Matt Wong: Thank you.
Richard Taylor: I think that's a nice place to leave, the end comments. Now, last question, just to Carolyn. Where do we go next, in terms of creating metrics or research that can affect real change? And we want all the answers on that please Carolyn! Carolyn Childs: I wouldn't say I have all the answers. But what I would say is, as starting point, is, there are answers out there. I mean, one thing it
would be great is if all of you who are destinations out there ask your national tourism authorities, ask your statistical bodies to start measuring this. Tell them why you think this is important for the people who have got it, as I said, you've got countries like VisitEngland, if you're in the US, you've got the Open Doors foundation, that research is out there. But as I said, I'd also reframe what you think research is, and what you think research can do, to look and say "Well, can I use this research from somewhere else? Can I use metrics that I've got myself to look at this?" So as I said, look at what Garry did with his staff, or look at what Matt did with non tourism statistics to say how big is the market, that's all research. People do tend to have this thing that research is this big thing that just happens out there.
All of you have got metrics that you can build and create for yourself, particularly early in the journey. So when you're creating your plans for this, build your success metrics in, work out what you can measure and do that. And see what you can use as proxies. What's a good proxy? So again, Matt with his "25% of the population of New Zealand has a disability". I think we're really lucky in countries like Australia, New Zealand, UK, we don't realize it, we have governments who collect reliable data. So can some of that data, help your thinking, to do things? Then that building of your own metrics. Then thinking about some of those other metrics, like, again, coming back to just askyour customers. Survey your customers, have something up on the
website saying, "Have you noticed this?", follow them up! Observational research. So if you've made some small changes, try and note how many times they're used. This is obviously again, easier with those visible disabilities than hidden disabilities. But similarly, make a note of... One of the things I
say, and it's not just for inclusive tourism, it's well for any business opportunity, make a note of the questions you get asked that you can't answer with your existing business. Because that is a great opportunity. Now I'm going to if I've got time, I'll just share one personal story here. Richard Taylor: Please do I do have time right now. Do you have to go anywhere Garry, Matt? Carolyn Childs: I'm thinking about Matt, because it's quite late. So, three years ago, I was diagnosed with a form of cancer that required three months chemotherapy, you could not tell looking at me, other than clearly, chemotherapy is better for your body than too much good wine because everyone told me how well I looked [laughs]. One problem I had was I could not drink anything that was cold. It would literally choke me. Do you know how bloody hard it is in
Australia to get water at room temperature? So in one case, I went to a local cinema. My partner wanted a glass of wine. He said, "What can you have?" because alcohol was not allowed, and I said, "I'd like some sparkling mineral water, but tell him Can I have a bottle at room temperature?" And he came back to me and said, "They haven't got any." And I said, "Can you go back to him and point at that bottle that is on the display shelf, which is clearly not cold. And tell him why you want that bottle. So shame him into it. Say my partner has chemotherapy, and she will literally choke in your cinema bar if you give her cold water." Now, I'm guessing both of you have food and beverage outlets, so you know what the profit margin is on fizzy water. Imagine
if you sold one more bottle of fizzy water a day, the profit that would come to your business. So that's one thing I say to people. This is data that you have every single day, keep a log of the questions you can't answer and look for patterns in them, because that will help you spot opportunities. To the question about how do we engage preaching beyond the choir, I think we have to create a secret opportunity event. So we'd not tell people it should be accessible
tourism, I'm going to suggest that maybe you put an invite out there and don't tell people what the conference is about other than here's an opportunity for a market that is huge, fast growing all those six things I talked about at AITCAP last year. Do you want to find out about that market? Then look people in the room don't let the out till they've heard why they should care. And that's where I'd say then it becomes having people like, you know, Matt and Garry tell that story because operators listen to operators, which is I think the power of today. I can sit here and tease apart what they've talked about, but it's their lived experience of making money, of seeing staff retention, of seeing growth, that makes that point better. So building case study libraries is one of them. But I'd actually just create a mystery around the opportunity
and get people in. Richard Taylor: That seems like a nice point to leave it at. I think that's terrific. I want to just say thank you so much to you guys for taking part with this. I know we've been a bit... organising it's been... I mean I only gave you the some of the heads up and other things today, but it's been very beneficial for me and I hope for you guys on the call as well. Chris is back! He says "Totally agree with Carolyn about the event idea. Great webinar.
Huge thanks to the panel. Very, very informative, and encouraging." And Manon says thank you, there's a couple of thank yous coming through. But yes, let's leave it there. You're coming back, you don't know it yet but we are going to get you back to talk more about this. I think we'll parade you around Australia, New Zealand at least talking about these things because they're so important. Ean's here says thank you as well, Ean Price who I think you've met
before? So let's leave it there. We'll speak again. But one last time, thank you so so much for joining, and all you people who have been attending as well, and greetings if you're reading and listening in the future. I hope this has been beneficial for you. Get in touch with us - firstname.lastname@example.org - if
you have any questions that you'd like answered. So thanks, guys, you can say goodbye. Goodbye. Thanks very much. Bye.